Tour to Siena 2018
La Torre alla Tolfe
In a break with tradition, in September 2018 the Chorale headed to Siena, in the heart of Tuscany, staying in a wine estate called La Torre alla Tolfe.
Going under the name Voci Inglese, we sang two concerts, one in the church of San Vigilio in the heart of Siena, and one in the Basilica dell'Osservanza, on the edge of the city.
Siena is famous for the palio, a horserace held twice a year on an earth track laid on the Piazza del Campo. Ten jockeys, representing some of the city's seventeen wards, ride bareback for three laps, with unregulated use of their whips. The race is preceded by a four-day pageant.
The stunning Duomo di Siena dates from the early thirteenth century, and is full of marble and mosaics. It houses sculpture by Michaelangelo and Donatello.
Adjoining the cathedral is the Piccolomini Library, housing precious illuminated choir books, and incredible frescoes dating back to 1502. It was commissioned in 1492 by Francesco Todeschini Biblioteca, (then archbishop of Siena and the future pope Pius III), as a repository of the books and the manuscript collection of his uncle, Pope Pius II. The exquisite illuminated psalters, dating from around 1470, were important because there was no electricity in the cathedral.
"Just the most brilliant concert this evening in the Basilica of the Osservanza, Siena, Italy, with the English Arts Chorale touring group. First half with five short pieces moved me to tears in every piece. I don’t remember that happening before in decades of choral conducting. Fabulous performance by James Gough of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue BWV542, and then probably the best performance so far of Paul Carr’s Stabat Mater. CONGRATULATIONS to all involved. Unforgettably wonderful. "